Back Modifications (3)
Views: 54 (31 Unique)  Award Shortlist   

Homeless in Vancouver, BC

By Swarnadip    
Homeless in Vancouver, BC

Tags: Street photography General

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.


dudler Plus
14 701 1340 England
23 Oct 2016 8:24AM
There are some delicate choices here.

One is whether to show the person's face... Some would say that you should not, but it's hard to resist such an innocent look. We can all be young again when we are asleep... Also, from this angle, you don't have the option, really, and the visual appeal of the flat-on composition is considerable.

Compositionally, I'd be tempted to put the camera low to get the verticals all lined up parallel to the sides of the frame. It's easy with a tilting screen that lets you look down, even if you don't want to start bending and kneeling on a cold path. The bench will be cold, too, of course.

More importantly, you have a rather formal composition, ideal to play against the litter and the homelessness. Why, then, didn't you include the left-hand edge of the bench for tidyness?

Finally, the tones. Looking at the large version, there are lovely delicate tones in the blanket, although the background looks rather murky, like so many Sixties documentary pictures. Inheriting a tradition, though, isn't a reason for having all its less good aspects! I've used Levels to lift the midtones a little, while still keeping an overall gloomy look. Having to sleep on a park bench is pretty gloomy...

I also straightened the strong verticals of the building, emphasising the way that the bench is tilted on the sloping path, and the overflowing rubbish bin it askew.

The implication of the picture - that the individual has been discarded carelessly by society, tossed away like a used polystyrene coffee cup - is hard to miss if you look at the picture for more than a few seconds, whether you recognise it consciously or not.

So - a couple of technical issues would allow you to bring this amazing piece of reportage to what I reckon could be competition-winning quality. It engages my brain, and, far rarer and harder, it engages my heart. I know there are people like this in my own town, and see them sitting, sometimes begging, always needing the rest of us to engage with tehm on their own terms. Society has damaged them, and we owe them care.

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mrswoolybill Plus
11 1.2k 1928 United Kingdom
23 Oct 2016 9:33AM
John has arrived first with a number of the things that went through my mind on opening this.

It's a sad and telling image of our throw-away society. There's a difficult grey area between photo journalism, reportage, and exploitation. I am always wary of images where the very vulnerable are clearly identifiable, unless there is a strong journalistic justification. The context here, the rubbish and evidence of human carelessness, bolter the story. There's a gentleness in the capture of the face. But I would personally prefer a more oblique approach, making the man a part of a much bigger picture, rather than standing here pointing the camera at his face. There but for fortune go you or I...

So I would want to move away, look for a composition of the street, with him a part of it.

Well done for going b&w, it gives a unity to the scene, prevents it from splitting up into different areas of interest.

Technically, it does illustrate how flexible the concept of horizontality can be! I would want to rotate clockwise to have the retainer walls level, let the bench slide down its slope...
mrswoolybill Plus
11 1.2k 1928 United Kingdom
23 Oct 2016 9:39AM
Sorry for typo, ...bolster the story... ie reinforce it.
banehawi Plus
13 1.8k 3878 Canada
23 Oct 2016 2:15PM
I saw this late last night, just after you uploaded it. I was quite conflicted about whether this was a shot that should be taken at all, in the sense that it may be seen as exploitative, and as the persons face is clearly identifiable, Im sure no permission was given.

However, I cant say I wouldnt have taken the shot, and it can have a social impact that illustrates the plight of the homeless.

Vancouver has the highest population of street sleepers in Canada, which is at least in some way related to the relatively mild weather. Theres also a high rate of drug use in some downtown areas, which may be related.

This person is likely to be a member of an aboriginal peoples tribal group judging by the blanket; these groups represent quite a large chunk of those on the streets.

Good comments above, and to dudlers point, in that area, its very likely the other side of that bench is just as bad, but the idea is a good one.

Ive tried something different in a mod.



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